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Portland, OR
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Basic Garden glossary

photo 2An old (and crotchety) family friend once told me that you only have to know three words in any one field to pass yourself off as an expert. Just “say it with authority” he instructed. So with that in mind here is a nice little list of helpful garden terms that will hopefully be informative, useful and if you want to pass yourself off as an expert you apparently only need to remember three.

Acidic soil – Any soil with a pH lower than 7.

Alkaline soil – Any soil with a pH higher than 7, often associated with hard water.

Annual – A plant that completes its life cycle in one year.

Bare-root – Dormant plants that are taken out of the ground, removed of their soil, and preserved until shipping and planting.

Biennial – A plant that completes its entire life cycle in two years, growing in the first year and reproducing and dying in the second.

To flower and produce seed prematurely. This is usually the result of excessive heat and sun exposure.

Bud union – Refers to the point at which the plant has been grafted on to a rootstock and is usually found at soil level. This is the result of a technique called ‘budding’ where the bud of one plant is grafted on to another plant.

Bulb – An underground storage organ with fleshy scale leaves from which the plant flowers and grows before becoming dormant.

Cane -The stems of a raspberry or blackberry plant. Raspberry plants are supplied as dormant canes.

Cloche – Structure made of glass, plastic or horticultural fleece placed over a plant for protection or for forcing early crops.

Cold frame – Unheated frame for growing on and acclimatizing hardy and half-hardy plants outdoors.

Companion planting – The belief that two plants growing near each other produce mutual benefits.

Compost – A mixture of decaying, organic materials (such as kitchen scraps) used for soil amending, fertilizing, and mulching.

Corm – A rounded underground storage organ, consisting of the stem base, and often with a fibrous outer layer. It is replaced by the plant annually.

Crown -The growing point of a plant from which new shoots emerge, at or just below the soil surface.

Cutting – A plant propagation method wherein a part of a plant is cut and dipped in a rooting hormone to eventually grow into a new plant.

A plant that is bred or selected by growers for unique flowers, leaf color, growing habit etc. It has distinct and uniform characteristics that differ from the original species.

Dead-head – To remove the spent blooms on a plant to encourage further flowering or to prevent self-seeding.

Deciduous – A plant that sheds its leaves each year.

Direct Sow -To sow seeds outdoors in their final positions, where you would like them to flower or crop.

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Plant a cutting garden

Why not bring the beauty of your garden inside – Consider planting a cutting garden this year so you can enjoy all the lovely flowers in your home as well as the garden. Here are some suggestions for creating and harvesting your own cutting garden.

garden gatherings
Don’t be limited by traditionally used flowers. There is a whole world of interesting botanical textures out there. Twigs and branches can be especially nice to create line and form in a bouquet. Grasses and ferns can add a wispy soft texture. Vines with their twisting airy form can add movement and whimsey. There are also tons of beautiful forms after the plant has faded – seedpods and the dried bits of previous seasons blooms. Not all plants will last as a cut flower but experiment and see what might hold. Below are some tried and true perennials that you might already have planted in your garden:
Dusty Miller
Fruit branches
And don’t forget about all those old classics:

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May garden tips

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May Is the month for gardeners in the Pacific Northwest!


The rain may still be here but let’s get ready for summer parties,  reading novels in the sun and all the bounty of our veggie gardens! The best selection of plants for the whole year is happening right now so come to thicket to pick out the perfect plants to really make your garden shine!

Planting tips for new starts – 
Dig a hole about a third bigger than the potted plant and work the surrounding soil to be planted to ensure good drainage. Loosen the soil and roots in the pot before planting. Mix in a little organic matter for an added boost. Pat down the soil into the hole and water deeply.
You will need to continue to check the water frequently. Even the most drought tolerant plants will need a season of care before they can be left alone. A small depression for catching water can be helpful. Consider a water bag for larger trees.

Root bound plants
 – You may need to tap the pot to remove your plant. If it is extremely difficult to remove cut slits,
Check to see if the plant is root bound. Are the roots very dense and tight? Loosen the root ball or in some cases even take a sharp knife and cut vertical slits in the root ball. This encourages the plants roots to divide and expand. Look for a wound tap root. Not all plants have a tap root – if it has one it should  be clearly visible – they can wind themselves around the bottom of the pot and it is very important to unwind and get it growing in the right direction! A wound tap root can continue to grow in a circular fashion and never develop into an anchor for the plant. Sometimes a tree can topple over 5 years after it was planted because the tap root was not properly planted.

Potted patio containers – 
A few colorful planters added to a patio or porch can enliven an entire landscape.They can be a reflection of your personal style and are a great way to add instant color and interest.  We have hanging baskets, pottery and all sorts of non traditional containers, as well as some very interesting annuals and textural elements to spruce up those pots.

Water gardens – 
Turn water pots right side up. Bring out the water plants, raise water lilies and clean up carnivorous plants by pruning off the old winter heads. Place mosquito dunks now before those buggers move in.

 – Finish any divisions before the heat of summer is upon us. Continue the search for pests and be diligent with weeds. Deadhead spent flower heads to encourage new buds. Leave spent foliage to feed the bulbs of bulbs like tulips and daffodils. Now is the best time of year for hedging as new growth will appear quickly and reduce the time you have to look at a whacked bush. If you need to prune your rhodies and want blooms for next year do it right after they have bloomed, or if you have a lovely old rhodie with a beautiful shape but it has hideous purple flowers consider pruning it later in the season as you will likely take off the new buds and inhibit the bloom for next year. Add some lime to your soil for fruiting vegetables like tomatoes, squash and peppers to prevent blossom end rot.

 – The garden can begin to dry out this time of year but overwatering can be just as bad for the health of your plants so getting a water plan in place is wise.
- Plan your garden so that thirsty plants are grouped together while drought tolerant plants have their own spot.
- Water earlier in the day to avoid evaporation
- If you use sprinklers be sure that they are placed reasonably and use timers to avoid waste.
- Soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems are more efficient.
- Mulch can help conserve moisture in the ground.
- Water less frequently but deeply to ensure water gets to the roots.

 – May is for planting warm-season vegetables like basil, tomatoes and peppers but not until the danger of frost is past. Check the local farmers almanac for predictions and be prepared to cover seedlings if the temperature drops. It is generally still a little chilly for squash, eggplant, cucumber and melon but they can go out if you are prepared to give them a little protection. Healthy plants can be so stunted by early exposure to cold weather that they never fully recover and your harvest is minimal. But, if you wait to long to plant cabbages lettuces, cilantro and broccoli, the coming hot weather will make them bolt and spoil your crop.

 – Artichoke, Basil, Broccoli, Beans, Cauliflower, Celery, Collards, Eggplant, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Onions, Parsley, Peppers, Squash, Swiss chard, Tomatoes

Seed indoor – 
Basil, Brussels sprouts, Cucumbers

Seed outdoor
 – Arugula, Asian greens, Basil, Beans, Beets, Broccoli and Brussels sprouts(for fall crop), Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Cilantro, Corn (after the 15th), Dill, Kale, Lettuce, Parsnips, Pumpkins, Radish, Salad greens, Spinach, Summer squash, Swiss Chard, Turnips, Winter squash

Indoor plants – 
If you have tender plants that need to go back outside for the Summer it’s time for the great migration. Start in a shady location so you don’t burn the leaves that are not yet accustomed to direct sun. Give them all a little outdoor shower to clean off dusty leaves. A little extra food is a good idea as they will now have a growth spurt.

Let’s move the patio furniture back outside and start the summer parties!

© thicket 2017